Government warned over ‘flawed’ funding plan

21 June, 2021 / infocus
 Will Peakin  

The Scottish Government has been “repeatedly” warned of flaws in its plans for new tiered support arrangements.

It is understood that the Government plans to use Item of Service (IoS) as the sole measure of activity in the forthcoming arrangements, which were due to be announced as Scottish Dental went to print.

A spokesperson for Greater Glasgow & Clyde Local Dental Committee (LDC), said: “We have repeatedly highlighted the flaws in this approach, at all levels, but our concerns do not appear to be registering at the top level.”

In no other branch of the NHS are workers being threatened with an up to a 45 per cent pay reduction

The LDC believes that using IoS as the sole measure of activity will force young patients to the back of the queue, widening the gap in dental health inequalities and increasing the likelihood of life-threatening and avoidable general anaesthetic procedures.

“By only including the financial value of IoS as a measure of activity, dentists will be forced to favour adult patients over children or face severe cuts to their funding,” said the spokesperson. “GDPs are being put in the impossible position of choosing between child dental health and keeping practices afloat. This is wholly unacceptable.

“By way of a short-term solution, we have proposed a temporary SDR fee be attached to all capitation treatment items so that dental activity for young patients carries the same weight as for adults.”

In addition, said the LDC, using IoS as the sole measure of activity does not take into account the administrative demands of the new Standard Operating Procedures. “We cannot be expected to be able to practice safely – screening and triaging patients in line with guidance – without recognition that this activity now accounts for a far greater proportion of clinical time,” added the spokesperson.

“We have proposed that an SDR fee is attached to the existing 8,000 codes to represent – in IoS terms – the clinical time spent ensuring the safety of our patients and colleagues.

“To our knowledge, in no other branch of the NHS are individual workers being threatened with an up to a 45 per cent pay reduction should their service or practice as a whole fail to meet imposed targets.

“In fact, in all other NHS contractor services – GMP, optometry and pharmacy – funding has been maintained at 100 per cent, with no mention of tiered reductions, despite similarly devastated levels of service provision.”

Meanwhile, the Government confirmed it will continue funding the delivery of free PPE to dental practices until the end of March 2022 and earlier this month announced £5m in funding to help NHS dental practices purchase, renew or upgrade ventilation equipment.

Humza Yousaf, the Health Secretary, said: “The Scottish Government remains committed to ensuring that NHS dental services emerge from this pandemic well-placed to care for the oral health of the population.

David McColl, chair of the British Dental Association’s Scottish Dental Practice Committee, said: “Investment in ventilation can future proof Scotland’s dental services, boost patient numbers, and pay for itself.” But he added: “We must avoid half measures. Many dentists have had no option but to buy portable systems to get patients back through their doors. Ministers must ensure they do not lose out.”

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